Alan has a running joke that he likes to play on me. We’ll be driving along, chatting about this or that, and he’ll suddenly shout, “Yard sale!” And like a well-trained Pavlov’s hoarder, I whip my head around and say, “Where where where?!”
It gets me EVERY. TIME.
I like yard sales. A lot. Our apartment is furnished almost entirely with yard sale/flea market/thrift store/curbside treasures (a state of decor which I only occasionally regret).
But in spite of this clear addiction, I do manage to do a good job purging. Every year. Until new things replace old things and old things pile up again. It’s the circle of life.
I’ve held a yard sale every year for the last five years and have learned a few things that really make sales. Not to sing my own praises (ok, maybe a little), but I consider it a bad sale if I’ve made less than $300. Here are the little tricks I’ve learned on how to have a killer yard sale:
#1: Baked goods.
Having a little treat for shoppers creates a special atmosphere and keeps them at your sale longer. The early morning folks will especially appreciate this. Charge a small fee, 50 or 25 cents apiece, if you want to recoup the cost of baking/buying, or give them away for free if you’re feeling generous. Bonus points for labeling common allergens!
#2: Greet every visitor.
Be cheerful, but not overbearing. After saying hello, allow your shoppers to explore . If they are hovering over one item for a long time or seem to be losing interest, then you can start making small talk or offer to explain something about what you are selling.
Also, say thank you and goodbye! Think of your sale as a friendly little boutique—it’s all about creating a fun experience. Plus, shoppers who are still lingering will be infected with warm-fuzzy feelings and get spendy.
#3: Be sincere.
If your shopper is a talker, engage him/her and mean it. Try to live up to the best waiter or waitress you’ve encountered when eating out. You know the one: chatty yet concise, knowledgeable but honest when uncertain. If your shopper is concerned about how an item works or looks, tell him/her about your experience with it.
#4: Haggle, but don’t be afraid to say “no.”
Value is subjective. If you’ve got a few items that you know are worth the price you’ve named, it’s ok to say so. Some shoppers will try to haggle you down about EVERY SINGLE THING and may even insult you when they don’t get their way. For those pieces you’re only willing to part with for a certain amount, be firm, but pleasant.
However, this should only apply to a small portion of your sale—you’re trying to declutter after all, and half the fun for the buyer is haggling and getting a deal.
#5: Don’t let buyers walk away.
Unless the item falls into the “no haggling” category, if a shopper has shown a lot of interest in an item but starts to leave, call out to them and cut the price. Sure, this won’t work every time, but some people feel awkward about initiating the haggling and need to be gently pushed.
Finally, have fun!
Is that cheesy? It’s totally cheesy. But still, a yard sale is a lot of work, and if you let yourself get bogged down by the effort or the heat or grumpy buyers, you’re gonna have a bad time. Play some music, ask a friend to keep you company, or do whatever else you need to do to enjoy yourself. I really enjoy selling stuff because I am a crazy person. If the thought of having a yard sale makes you completely miserable, it may not be worth it.
Do any of you have success stories from past yard sales? Or failures, or funny anecdotes?
Weather permitting, I’m having my SIXTH yard sale on Saturday. Wish me luck and low humidity!